The true birth of Project “Grant Gongthung a Greenhouse” lies within my – Warren Tanner, that is – placement as a high school English teacher in the Bhutanese village of Gongthung. Representing the Bhutan Canada Foundation and its focused, lasting efforts to develop education in this beautiful, mountainous nation, I have been teaching here for the past five months. It’s a land as deeply rooted in ancient traditions as it is invested in the future; imagine a Buddhist monk swathed in saffron and crimson robes, yakking away on an iPhone 4 and you might have some idea what this dichotomy is like. And yet, in spite of its headlong race into modernity, 80% of the population lives off of subsistence farming. This tremendous percentage is almost immediately evident upon arrival in the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan; one cannot help being struck by the instant beauty of mountains blanketed by agricultural terraces.
Needless to say, farming is the sturdy backbone of life in Gongthung. Not only does it connote survival, it is a direct connection to ancestral land, and therefore a direct connection to history, culture, and identity. Roots run deep. But there exists a difficult truth at the heart of this way of life: due to aridity and altitude, the growing season falls in a narrow three-month window, confined to the summer monsoon season alone. Therefore, the means by which the majority of families in the village support themselves is limited to a slim minority of the year itself. Furthermore, ask any farmers around here about these challenges and they’ll tell you that this already small window appears to be getting smaller; not even remote Bhutan has been able to escape climate change.
To meet this need in the school community, in collaboration with the Bhutan Canada Foundation and a number of local partners, we’ve proposed to construct a greenhouse for the benefit of Gongthung Middle Secondary School and the village beyond. The prospective greenhouse will serve as an interactive classroom in which alternative cultivation and harvest methods can be taught and reinforced. Students can then share such knowledge with their families and villages. Furthermore, the fruits and vegetables that do not go towards supplementing the students’ diet can be brought to local market, creating a humble but nonetheless valuable source of income for the school, in addition to fresh produce for the community.
In consultation with local suppliers and contractors, we’ve concluded that “Grant Gongthung a Greenhouse” needs a humble $1100 to make this dream a reality. The EuroCan Foundation – a charitable body who focuses on conservation issues, particularly as they relate to renewable energies, climate change and sustainability – has already approved the project for a $500 grant. That leaves the remaining $600 to be raised through the kind, generous contributions of benefactors such as you.
We’re confident in our belief that our goal will be comfortably attained, and we hope you share our vision. So please, reach out and get involved, the Kingdom of the Thunder Dragon will be forever grateful!
Please visit the Bhutan Canada Foundation website for more information about the incredible work being done by the BCF:
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